From services to community: A fulfilling journey of self-care

The Brent Community Development Work team is bridging the gap between mental health services and community support, as part of their Wellbeing Hub. Supporting tertiary care, secondary care, and primary care services, the Wellbeing Hub offers a safe space, a listening ear, and emotional support, currently to more than 70 individuals, who wish to go for an alternative way of care other than mental health services, accessing resources available in the community.

Based on their personal needs, individuals are being offered advice where to find help and how to make best use of it. They feel empowered to foster their own independence and in charge of their own wellbeing support.

Ambesit, a Community Development Worker, is working closely with IAPT therapists, (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies – www.iapt.nhs.uk) to support their clients around their social needs by helping them identify resources available in the Brent community, ranging from connecting them with self-help groups, to offering information how they can deal with their benefits and housing issues.

“We often see clients who need advice on immigration and housing. It can be the cause of their suicidal thoughts. We feel helpless. We don’t know where to signpost them. This service is definitely very helpful for our clients”, an IAPT therapist.

“I feel much better since the last time we met. I stopped drinking for four days. I have signed up for an IT class, and now I am looking to volunteer”, a woman approached Wellbeing Drop-In.

Mina, a Community Development Worker, is working closely with the Park Royal Hospital to support their patients who are to be discharged. Working with patients with complex needs and conditions, peer mentors are offering guidance on how they can get on their feet again and back in the community.

“Thank you for being there all the time through. I feel empowered being part of this pilot supporting my peers”, a peer mentor fed back to Mina.

Elizabeth, a Wellbeing Peer Supporter, is working closely with GP surgeries to support their patients accessing community resources and mental health services.  More recently, a patient approached her for wellbeing advice on negative ideas and suicidal thoughts. She put him directly in touch with the GP for an initial assessment, and linked him with an appropriate service that could help him immediately. The patient returned to Elizabeth with a greater spirit and contentment.

“The service has been helpful in terms of dealing with emotionally demanding patients. Patient satisfaction about the service has increased.  I recommend other GPs to make use of this pilot”, said a lead GP who took part in the Wellbeing Primary Care pilot.

“I feel much better now. I will go away for a while but I will come and see you again”, a patient wrote a letter to Elizabeth thanking her for her support and time.

The Brent Community Development Work team is extending a ladder of hope and trust between professionals and communities. They get food vouchers for the hungry, find about job fairs for the unemployed, secure a language-supported meeting for those who struggle to express themselves. They are transforming people’s lives, helping many more to get connected with their own community, and simply to be happy and empowered again. From relying on services to finding their own way to self-care, that is a fulfilling journey.